Another White Supremacist Monument Comes Down. At Least 700 More To Go.
The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that has towered over New Orleans’ busy Lee Circle for 133 years was taken down amid cheers Friday.
It’s the fourth and final Confederate monument the city had slated to take down, and its removal marks the end of one of America’s more successful ― and publicized ― campaigns to expel symbols of white supremacy from public property.
In a speech Friday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu made it clear that these statues were part of a “movement which became known as the cult of the Lost Cause.”
“This ‘cult’ had one goal,” he explained, “through monuments and through other means, to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.
“These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for.”
The history of the Confederacy, he added, is one “we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.”
6:03 p.m.: Lee statue finally comes off top of large column. pic.twitter.com/do5vC8W0Db
— WWL-TV (@WWLTV) May 19, 2017
But there remain hundreds of Confederate generals and soldiers on pedestals across America, their proud poses belying the savage system of slavery, rape and torture they fought, and sometimes died, to defend.
A Southern Poverty Law Center study last year identified more than 1,500 Confederate symbols on public property, including “monuments and statues; flags; holidays and other observances; and the names of schools, highways, parks, bridges, counties, cities, lakes, dams, roads, military bases, and other public works.”
Of those symbols, 718 were statues or monuments like those in New Orleans, some explicitly extolling the cause of the Confederacy.